Helen MirrenSomething we applaud in ourselves and in others is the willingness to do for others. Always being there when people need us, always willing to lend a hand, give advice, or just pitch in even without being asked. This is the kind of person that we think of as wholesome, good, and perfect. However, it is also the person we will probably know the least about, will often have the most secrets and possibly be one of the more lonely people in a crowd. All of their doing focuses the attention away from themselves and onto those receiving from them.  It’s like a firehose of giving that keeps us from ever reaching or connecting with the source. Often the most giving people are the ones with the lowest self-esteem. They struggle to have relationships, often feel that they don’t deserve them for some reason, and so seek to earn them through good deeds.

This is not to say that just being a good person is out of balance or has a hidden agenda. In fact being a good person in general comes with a healthy dose of self-worth, of good boundaries, of saying no, of being available to the self as much as we’re being available to others, and keeping everything in moderation. As Dame Helen Mirren put it recently “‘At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently.” Being a good person means being good to everyone starting with yourself.

People attempt to buy relationship thinking that this is the way to connect. They feel that their worth is in what they can do, what they produce, what they have to offer rather intrinsic to their being. They therefore do for the other person and expect a return on that investment, which often never comes. And because their worth is in direct proportion to what they have to offer, their self-esteem takes a hit when they don’t get the return they feel they deserve so they then attempt to “pay more” by doing more in order to get a return or allow more people into their lives that need things done for them. In the end they feel burned out, used, empty, and still looking for people who want to connect with them and just love them for who they are. The problem is that all the giving pushes people away and focuses attention on the product and not the person doing the doing. If we allow ourselves to be seen, if we value ourselves as highly as we wish others to value us, then the doing stops being a means to buy relationship and becomes a natural expression of connection, allowing others to value themselves and us in kind.